Recent Entries in Politics

President Bush yesterday launched a weeklong blitz of election-style campaigning to build support for his domestic spying program, seeking to persuade the country to uphold his power to bypass laws in the interest of national security -- a power that many legal scholars say he does not have.

On a legal level, however, Bush's initiative has deeper implications, analysts said. If the public and the Congress accept Bush's assertion of power, they would clear the way for an increase in presidential power that could last long after Bush leaves office, the analysts said.

''This power will lie around like a loaded weapon for any future incumbent to use when he wants to override a law," said Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official in the Reagan administration. ''There will be terrorism forever, so it will become a permanent fixture on our legal landscape."

Bush launches a bid to justify domestic spying - The Boston Globe

A European human rights investigator said on Tuesday there was evidence the United States had "outsourced" torture to other countries and it was likely that European governments knew about it.

But Swiss senator Dick Marty, who heads an investigation by the Council of Europe human rights watchdog, said he had not uncovered any irrefutable evidence to confirm allegations that the CIA operated secret detention centers in Europe.

His remarks, in a preliminary report, kept pressure on the CIA and European governments over allegations that the U.S. intelligence agency flew prisoners through airports in Europe to jails in third countries where they may have been tortured.

"There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing of torture'," Marty said in his initial report into the allegations for the 46-nation Council, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.

Top News Article | Reuters.com

The Vatican newspaper has published an article saying â..intelligent designâ. is not science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only creates confusion.

The article in Tuesdayâ..s editions of Lâ..Osservatore Romano was the latest in a series of interventions by Vatican officials â.. including the pope â.. on the issue that has dominated headlines in the United States.

The author, Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, laid out the scientific rationale for Charles Darwinâ..s theory of evolution, saying that in the scientific world, biological evolution â..represents the interpretative key of the history of life on Earth.â.

He lamented that certain American â..creationistsâ. had brought the debate back to the â..dogmaticâ. 1800s, and said their arguments werenâ..t science but ideology.

â..This isnâ..t how science is done,â. he wrote. â..If the model proposed by Darwin is deemed insufficient, one should look for another, but itâ..s not correct from a methodological point of view to take oneself away from the scientific field pretending to do science.â.

Intelligent design â..doesnâ..t belong to science and the pretext that it be taught as a scientific theory alongside Darwinâ..s explanation is unjustified,â. he wrote.

â..It only creates confusion between the scientific and philosophical and religious planes."

Vatican paper raps â..intelligent designâ.. - Science - MSNBC.com

The federal judge who overturned teaching ``intelligent design'' in public school biology classrooms in Dover, Pa., concluded that the local school board acted with ``breathtaking inanity.'' U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III (a Bush appointee) found the notion that a supernatural power must have guided the evolution of species to be warmed-over creationism, outside the realm of science and well inside the realm of particular religious belief.

When the board injected intelligent design into the science curriculum of a public school system, it crossed the line separating church and state.

What might a judge eventually say about the state school board in Ohio, which this week refused by a narrow margin to revise its guidelines for teaching biology? Those guidelines create false controversy over Darwinian evolution, singling it out from all other scientific theories for critical analysis, indirectly but quite deliberately guiding students toward the conclusion that an intelligent designer (God) must have shaped each amazing, complex organism. Would the judge conclude that in the wake of the Dover decision, the state board in Ohio acted with breathtaking stupidity?

Beacon Journal | 01/12/2006 | A lack of intelligence -- but by design?

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today announced that it has settled a lawsuit over a California school districtâ..s decision to teach a course promoting creationism.

Americans United, with assistance from the law firm Arnold & Porter LLP, filed suit against the El Tejon Unified School Districtlast week, seeking to end a course called â..Philosophy of Designâ. that promoted creationist ideas, including â..intelligent design.â. The course, taught at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec by special education teacher and soccer coach Sharon Lemburg, relied heavily on videos produced by fundamentalist Christian groups that espouse creationism.

The El Tejon case, AU maintained, was even more problematic because it relied heavily on â..young-earthâ. creationist materials that insist that the biblical Book of Genesis is literally true and is scientific a controversial view held by many fundamentalists but rejected by other Christians. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the teaching of creationism in public schools in 1987.

By permitting the course, the El Tejon District was elevating the fundamentalistChristian viewpointover others and misrepresenting religious concepts as scientific, Americans United asserted in legal documents.

Americans United: California School District Agrees To Drop Creationism Course, Settle Lawsuit

The Bush administration cannot stop doctors from helping terminally ill patients end their lives under the nation's only physician-assisted suicide law, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

By a 6-3 vote, the high court ruled that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001 impermissibly interpreted federal law to bar distribution of controlled drugs to assist suicides, regardless of the Oregon law authorizing it.

In a stinging defeat for the administration, the justices upheld a U.S. appeals court ruling that Ashcroft's directive was unlawful and unenforceable, and that he had overstepped his authority.

The Oregon law, called the Death with Dignity Act, was twice approved by the state's voters. The only state law in the nation allowing physician-assisted suicide, it has been used by more than 200 people since it took effect in 1997.

US News Article | Reuters.com

And there's even 2 Democrats listed...

Beyond DeLay :: 13 Ethically Challenged Members of Congress

Over the past year, the issue of Congressional ethics has taken on new resonance. Where questionable conduct was once shrugged off as "business as usual," now both the public and the press are demanding greater accountability from Members of Congress. At a time when a recent Gallup Poll reports only that 36% of those polled express approval of Congress, people are taking a harder look at the actions of their representatives.

Beyond DeLay documents the unethical activities of thirteen Members of Congress: 10 House Members and three Senators. This is the first time all the infractions by these various members have been compiled in one place. Corruption demands accountability and action.

Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.

I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings, when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. As a Democrat who opposed many of President Nixon's policies, I still found voting for his impeachment to be one of the most sobering and unpleasant tasks I ever had to undertake. None of the members of the committee took pleasure in voting for impeachment; after all, Democrat or Republican, Nixon was still our President.

At the time, I hoped that our committee's work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.

The Impeachment of George W. Bush

  Democrats thrash Alito

Democratic attacks led by Bay State Sen. Edward M. Kennedy left Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito unflappable yesterday â.. but drove his wife out of his confirmation hearings in tears.

...

Challenged by Democrats, Alito repeatedly said he had no memory of involvement with the conservative Concerned Alumni of Princeton, though he highlighted his membership in a 1985 job application for the Reagan administration.

He repudiated opinions expressed in the organizationâ..s magazine. â..Theyâ..re not my views. . . . I deplore them,â. he said of writing that contained material that was racist, sexist and homophobic. Alito also declined for a second day to say whether he believes, as he did in 1985, the Constitution contains no right to an abortion.

BostonHerald.com - National Politics: Democrats thrash Alito

  Is Bush off the wagon?

prez_bush_drunk.jpg

BottleOfBlog: Out With The Old Drunk, In With The New

The dude is a serious boozer. He hasn't given up shit.

Grown up people don't show up for work, Monday morning, all bloodied and bruised--what is this guy? In Fight Club? Grown-up people don't say "peeance, freeance" in public and not even notice that they just said it. Grown up people don't disappear and retreat into seclusion at times of stress. Only to reappear with, again, bruises, contusions, and lacerations on their faces.

You know who does?

Hardcore, falling down, howling alcoholics.

The NSA's domestic surveillance program is not the only offense with which the president could be charged.

The House Judiciary Committee's Democratic staff recently released a report concluding that Bush "misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq." And the 273-page minority report goes on to conclude that "the President, Vice President and members of the Bush administration violated a number of federal laws, including:

1) Committing a Fraud against the United States;
2) Making False Statements to Congress;
3) The War Powers Resolution;
4) Misuse of Government Funds;
5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment;
6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals;
7) federal laws concerning leakings and other misuses of intelligence."

The Sun News | 01/06/2006 | Impeachment chances loom for Bush

Found these on dailykos.com. Apparently they're officially unconstitutional.

cobb_county_sticker_removal.jpg

Daily Kos: Cobb County Evolution Sticker Update...

In 2004, Bush said the following (gathered from the White House website):

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

But, things change ...:

The president says without apology that he has, and has used, the legal power to order the National Security Agency to conduct electronic eavesdropping on people, including U.S. citizens, within the United States without prior court approval. He said Saturday during a live radio address that his orders to the NSA to eavesdrop domestically were "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists," "critical to saving American lives" and "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." The government has long had the power, through proper procedures, to conduct foreign surveillance in this fashion. What makes last week's revelations markedly different is that this power now has been used domestically, in some cases against U.S. citizens, without formal Congressional or judicial approval.

The president's legal position â.. that no law may forbid him from ordering domestic surveillance without a warrant â.. is not explicitly contained in the text of the Constitution, has never before been implied into it by the federal courts, and is nowhere to be found in Congress' most germane legislation on the topic. You might say, as one long ago Supreme Court justice might have put it, that the president's power to wage war in this fashion, without specific constitutional or statutory authority, stems from the discovery by government lawyers of "penumbral emanations" of such power in the Constitution itself. That doesn't mean the power does not somehow exist; it just means that no other branch of government, including the branch that has the job of interpreting the Constitution, has ever stated that it does.

CBS News | The Constitution Versus Itself

"Intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.

...

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote. "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

...

Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.

"Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom," he wrote.

...

Although Defendants attempt to persuade this Court that each Board member who voted for the biology curriculum change did so for the secular purposed of improving science education and to exercise critical thinking skills, their contentions are simply irreconcilable with the record evidence. Their asserted purposes are a sham, and they are accordingly unavailing, for the reasons that follow.

We initially note that the Supreme Court has instructed that while courts are â..normally deferential to a Stateâ..s articulation of a secular purpose, it is required that the statement of such purpose be sincere and not a sham.â. Edwards, 482 U.S. at 586-87 (citing Wallace, 472 U.S. at 64)(Powell, J., concurring); id. at 75 (Oâ..Connor, J., concurring in judgment). Although as noted Defendants have consistently asserted that the ID Policy was enacted for the secular purposes of improving science education and encouraging students to exercise critical thinking skills, the Board took none of the steps that school officials would take if these stated goals had truly been their objective. The Board consulted no scientific materials. The Board contacted no scientists or scientific organizations. The Board failed to consider the views of the Districtâ..s science teachers. The Board relied solely on legal advice from two organizations with demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions, the Discovery Institute and the TMLC. Moreover, Defendantsâ.. asserted secular purpose of improving science education is belied by the fact that most if not all of the Board members who voted in favor of the biology curriculum change conceded that they still do not know, nor have they ever known, precisely what ID is. To assert a secular purpose against this backdrop is ludicrous.

Judge Rules Against Pa. Biology Curriculum - Yahoo! News

Other Links:

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/051220_kitzmiller_342.pdf

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/unconstitutional_to_teach_id/

http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/12/dover-judge-rules-against-intelligent.html

â..The FBI should use its resources to investigate credible threats to national security instead of spending time tracking Americans who criticize government policy, or monitoring groups that have not broken the law,â. said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU. â..Labeling law abiding groups and their members â..domestic terroristsâ.. is not only irresponsible, it has a chilling effect on the vibrant tradition of political dissent in this country.â.

The documents were obtained by the ACLU after the organization filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to discover whether the FBIâ..s partnerships with local law enforcement in Joint Terrorism Task Forces has resulted in increased surveillance of political and religious activity.

Among the documents released today were more than 100 pages of FBI files on PETA. Multiple documents indicate ongoing surveillance of PETA-related meetings and activities, including a â..Vegan Community Projectâ. event at the University of Indiana during which the group distributed vegetarian starter kits to students and faculty, an animal rights conference in Washington, DC that was open to the public, and a planned protest of Cindy Crawfordâ..s decision to become a llama fur spokesperson.

American Civil Liberties Union : New Documents Show FBI Targeting Environmental and Animal Rights Groups Activities as â..Domestic Terrorismâ..


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